Glass Art Centre opens in Sázava, Benešov Region

The new Glass Art Centre, which was opened today in the renovated Glassworks František in Sázava, Benešov Region, offers a unique collection of modern glass and an imaginary trip into the secrets of its production. The project was implemented by the Josef Viewegh Foundation Glassworks František at a cost of 130 million crowns, most of which was covered by an Integrated Operational Programme grant. Martina Kulhavá, director of Cesty skla o. p. s. (Ways of Glass) which operates Sázava’s glass centre explains that the project succeeded in protecting not just an interesting historical technical site, but also a unique collection of works created by glass artists at the International Glass Symposia in Nový Bor from 1982 to 2006.

Its extensive glass collection, numbering around 1 500 objects by 500 authors from around the world, was purchased by the Josef Viewegh Foundation as part of bankruptcy proceedings. ‘The creditors wanted to split it up and sell it, but in the end we managed to purchase it all together. We recorded it all, and we are currently displaying about a third of the total number of objects,’ says main project manager, Jaroslav Krčmář.

‘I was probably the happiest on 3 May 2011 when we received the decision to give us a grant. I was also really nervous about it at the same time,’ confesses the Josef Viewegh Foundation’s Chair of the Board, Slávka Vieweghová. She also replied promptly to the question of what her late husband would say about how the project ended up. ‘He would definitely be happy, but he would also definitely criticise it. He was an perfectionist in everything, so he would certainly have found something,’ she adds with a smile. She says she first began to believe in the success of the project when they got Jaroslav Krčmář for it, who knows glass very well. And she also loved the glassworks renovation design, which was undertaken by architect, Zdeněk Žilka.

The Glass Art Centre is to be open from Tuesday to Sunday, always from 10 am until 6 pm. It offers a fascinating programme to visitors of all ages who will be introduced to the glass manufacturing process, from the grain of sand to a work of art; they’ll find out how to melt, blow, paint, polish and engrave glass. Each section in the exhibition is interactive, and through short film clips visitors are introduced to the use of specific manufacturing technologies up to the final product.

Visitors will be able to choose from two guided tours. One leads you to the exhibition, and the second also shows you the workshops. Glassworking courses will take place here from spring until autumn for those who have experience, and also the general public. The guided tour will as such be different each time. From 9 until 13 June, for example, the course ‘Dialog with the Engraving Wheel’ takes place here, led by Pavlína Čambalová, currently one of the most successful glass engravers in the world. From 30 June until 11 July, visitors will be initiated in the secrets of glass blowing by American artist, Janusz Pozniak.

The Centre has also arranged project games for primary and secondary school pupils, which can provide additional teaching in a number of subjects. Their objective is to arouse the child’s interest in glass craft. For the pilot project, the centre is collaborating with Sázava elementary school. A goblin called Chervil will take the youngest children around the glassworks, and also play with them.

The Glass Art Centre was created through the renovation of the former Glassworks František, which was built in 1882 by Josef Kavalier, who named it after his father. Following construction of new glassworks and factories in Sázava, however, its importance declined and it slowly fell into disrepair. In 2010, it was entered onto the Czech Republic’s cultural heritage list.

Jaroslava Tůmová

Contact for further information:

Martina Kulhavá, Director of CESTY SKLA, o. p. s.

tel.: 736 521 859, e-mail: kulhava@cestyskla.cz, www.cestyskla.cz

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